My uncle Igor was a good man. I remember the first time he came to our house and suddenly the place was full of laughter and possibility. The stories he would tell us! He fired our imaginations with his tall tales. Uncle Igor knew everyone. He had been everywhere and he had done everything. There was nothing you could mention to Uncle Igor that he couldn’t fit a story to, and go one better. You climbed a mountain: he climbed twenty. You swam a lake: he swam an ocean. You ate a cake: he cleared out an entire supermarket with his rapacious appetite.
The whole family would crowd into his room in the basement to hear his fantastical accounts. We would vie with each other to take him cups of sweet tea and generous slices of pie. We would elbow each other out of the way and trip each other up so we would be the first to go in and take prime position at the side of his bed. Then it would be as if he was telling the story directly to us and only to us. The rest of the room, the house, the world would melt away as the pictures he put in our heads drowned out everything else. We could be riding camels through an expanse of desert or gliding between the moons of a distant planet. Uncle Igor could paint pictures in our heads with his wonderful words.
We cooked his meals. We cleaned him up and performed all the necessary tasks to keep him comfortable. We oiled his wrists and ankles so that the restraints didn’t chafe him. Gradually he put on weight and began to wheeze with every breath. We feared he would no longer be able to hold court; we feared our supply of stories would be cut off. We were selfish and for that, Uncle Igor, I am truly sorry.
And now Uncle Igor speaks no more. His heart finally gave out, unable to cope with all the butter and the lard we fed him. There will be no more of his sensational stories. I tried to tell one the other day but it was not the same. I couldn’t recall all the details. I couldn’t weave a magical tapestry of imagination. Uncle Igor’s talent died with him.
So, raise your glasses to the best visitor we ever had. We will surely never forget this one. He was with us the longest and entertained us the most.
Farewell, Uncle Igor! You will live on in our memories and in our waistlines. There is certainly enough of you to go around.
We will never taste your like again.